Bamboo – “the wonder plant”

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With modern processing techniques, bamboo can be transformed into many products that compete directly with traditional wood products in price and performance. Bamboo often surpasses wood in the diversity of products produced. It is also known to be a valuable ecological resource for soil and water conservation, and is often used for the restoration of degraded lands. Bamboo is the world's fastest and strongest growing woody plant, the fastest-growing species exceeding 1.2m a day. Unlike trees, all bamboo species grow to full height and girth in a single growing season of three to four months. When plants come into full production (4 to 5 years), they can be continually harvested each year and not once every 8-15 years like other sources of timber. The plant is increasingly used as a replacement for both hard and soft woods. Growing faster than eucalyptus, in India commercial bamboo provides 60% of the country's paper requirement. The poles, or culms, are so strong that they are used to make bicycle frames, in South Asia they are used to reinforce concrete and as scaffolding on skyscrapers. Products range from furniture, woven screens, surfboards, laminated flooring, wool fiber, composite boards and roof sheeting. Each year, two million tones of edible, vitamin-rich bamboo shoots are consumed. Global trade is estimated to exceed 2 billion USD per annum.